Everyday Utopias

The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces

Everyday Utopias

Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: 12 photographs Published: December 2013

Author: Davina Cooper

Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Politics > Political Theory

Everyday utopias enact conventional activities in unusual ways. Instead of dreaming about a better world, participants seek to create it. As such, their activities provide vibrant and stimulating contexts for considering the terms of social life, of how we live together and are governed. Weaving conceptual theorizing together with social analysis, Davina Cooper examines utopian projects as seemingly diverse as a feminist bathhouse, state equality initiatives, community trading networks, and a democratic school where students and staff collaborate in governing. She draws from firsthand observations and interviews with participants to argue that utopian projects have the potential to revitalize progressive politics through the ways their innovative practices incite us to rethink mainstream concepts including property, markets, care, touch, and equality. This is no straightforward story of success, however, but instead a tale of the challenges concepts face as they move between being imagined, actualized, hoped for, and struggled over. As dreaming drives new practices and practices drive new dreams, everyday utopias reveal how hard work, feeling, ethical dilemmas, and sometimes, failure, bring concepts to life.


“[H]er third chapter is a fascinating discussion of states as sensory formations.  She is attentive to both feeling as a state ethos and feeling in a thinned out state....Summing up: Recommended.” — H. G. Reid, Choice

“Davina Cooper takes the reader on an amazing journey – from an erotic bathhouse to a private school, Cooper aims to locate utopia in quotidian practice. … [T]he book has surely made important contributions to utopian studies. Cooper’s analysis is thoughtful and meticulous. This is a well-written book that will likely join the bookshelves of many utopian hopefuls.” — Angela Jones, International Journal of Law in Context

“The imaginative possibilities of Cooper’s approach, particularly when the connections sought are with ‘minor stream’ life, are emphatically brought home to the reader by the almost endlessly creative conceptualisation that characterises much of Everyday Utopias.” — Will Odogwu, Feminist Legal Studies

"Davina Cooper offers a careful and nuanced analysis of 'everyday utopias,' bringing the concept of utopia back to the present to give it a future. By finding potential in unexpected places, and showing how we can be involved in the actualization of worlds, this book is as hopeful and inspired as the practices it describes." — Sara Ahmed, author of The Promise of Happiness

"Exploring a wide variety of projects with more or less radical agendas, from nudist colonies to alternative schools to official equality rights bureaus, Davina Cooper's brilliant work shows us nothing less than a new way to do theory. Everyday Utopias is itself an everyday utopian theoretical space, showing the fruitfulness of eschewing tired polemics in favor of close analyses of the myriad social experiments going on around us." — Mariana Valverde, author of Everyday Law on the Street: City Governance in an Age of Diversity


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Davina Cooper is Professor of Law and Political Theory at Kent Law School at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. She is the author of Challenging Diversity: Rethinking Equality and the Value of Difference; Governing Out of Order: Space, Law and the Politics of Belonging; and Power in Struggle: Feminism, Sexuality and the State.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

1. Introduction  1

2. Toward a Utopian Conceptual Attitude 24

3. Casting Equality and the Touch of State Governance 45

4. Public Nudism and the Pursuit of Equality 73

5. Unsettling Feminist Care Ethics through a Women's and Trans Bathhouse 100

6. Normative Time and the Challenge of Community Labor in Local Exchange Trading Schemes 129

7. Property as Belonging at Summerhill School 155

8. Market Play at Speaker's Corner 186

9. Conclusion 217

Notes 229

References 251

Index 277
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Winner, Charles Taylor Book Award (presented by the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods Conference Group of the American Political Science Association)

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5569-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5555-7
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